Vaccines, Aiom: “20% of cancer patients don’t talk about it with the oncologist, campaign begins”

Cinieri: “Vaccine-preventable diseases are a serious and underestimated problem”. President Aiom at the XXV National Congress

20% of Italian cancer patients have never talked about vaccinations with their oncologist and do not feel sufficiently informed on this topic. 56% do not know the risks of not being immunised. 80% are not aware of the fact that correct vaccination can help improve the results of anti-tumor therapies. And only one in 10 sufferers knows that the Herpes zoster vaccination is strongly recommended. This is what is highlighted by a survey conducted on over 500 patients by the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom). It is part of the new information campaign ‘Vaccination in cancer patients’, promoted by the scientific society with a non-conditioning contribution from GSK. The entire initiative is presented today in Rome on the occasion of the XXV AIOM National Congress.

“We want to provide certified information to support cancer patients and raise awareness among the population and clinicians about the importance of vaccines – states Saverio Cinieri, president of Aiom – Thanks to new therapies and early diagnosis, the prospects for recovery from tumors are better than in the past. However, treatments may have contraindications and it is essential to be able to protect the health and well-being of patients both during and after treatments. This includes some vaccinations that are strongly recommended for patients and all those with whom they stay close contact. The recommended immunizations are anti-flu, anti-pneumococcal, anti-Covid and anti-Herpes zoster”.

“Shingles – underlines Nicola Silvestris, AIOM national councilor – is an infection that usually manifests itself through a plaque-shaped skin rash covered with small itchy blisters with a liquid content. It is a direct consequence of the Varicella zoster virus and it is estimated that over 99% of adults over 40 have come into contact with the pathogen. Of these, one in three people is at risk of developing at least one episode of Herpes zoster in their lifetime. But the risk is doubled for people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, in whom the low immune response increases the likelihood of contracting the virus. Additionally, there is a wider spread of skin lesions, a longer duration of infection and may develop concomitant bacterial infections. There may also be involvement of other organs with even fatal complications.”

“This is why immunization is of fundamental importance – adds Angioletta Lasagna, oncologist at the San Matteo Polyclinic in Pavia – Now an adjuvanted recombinant vaccine is available which can also be used by all cancer patients, including the immunocompromised. The efficacy remains constant. and it was 97% in people in their fifties and 91% in people over 70. It was evaluated in people who were administered two doses 2 months apart.” The vaccine project promoted by Aiom includes an information booklet, aimed at caregivers and patients, which will be distributed throughout the Peninsula in medical oncology centers. A publicized commercial was created and a campaign was launched on Aiom’s institutional social networks. A media tutorial dedicated to journalists will also be held.

“The survey clearly shows how necessary it is to inform and raise awareness about the use of vaccines in oncology – continues Cinieri – Aiom has always been very attentive to this topic which we believe is underestimated and which instead requires greater attention from everyone. One year ago As a scientific society, we have drawn up recommendations on the use of Herpes zoster vaccination. A document on influenza immunization in patients with solid tumors was drawn up way back in 2016. We are also the first company in the world that is developing guidelines on vaccination of cancer patients: they will soon be available to all specialists”.

“All diseases that are vaccine-preventable represent a serious problem for our patients – remarks Lasagna – In addition to the dangers for the general state of health deriving from infections and complications, pathologies such as influenza, meningitis, pneumonia or Saint’s Fire itself Antonio can delay active oncological treatments.” Perrone concludes: “The vaccine is a weapon that the oncologist must know and offer to his patient. However, the various immunizations must be carried out at the best time also based on the administration of the therapies. As regards the anti-Covid, for For example, recent scientific works have demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of vaccines even if administered during treatments. We therefore renew our invitation to cancer patients to immunize themselves as the Sars-CoV-2 virus can still be very dangerous.”